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Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
Published: 22 October 2010

A Black general dentist from Flint, Michigan is the 2010-2011 president of the American Dental Association (ADA).  Dr. Raymond Gist's induction took place recently during the ADA's 151st Annual Session in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Gist is the first African-American president of the 157,000 dentist member organization, the nation's oldest and largest dental association in the United States.

"Becoming the first African-American president of the ADA is very rewarding for me, because it has allowed me to demonstrate that the opportunity is here for every dentist that aspires to make a significant contribution to this fine profession," Dr. Gist said. "It also highlights the accomplishments of the African-American dentists that preceded me and created this pathway for me to follow.  While too many of my fellow professionals endured the hardships of being denied membership for far too many years, I represent the welcoming change in both attitude and spirit."

During his one-year term, Dr. Gist plans to focus on membership outreach and advocacy efforts that will have special appeal to young dentists.  "Programs oriented to students and new graduates are a priority for me," Dr. Gist said.  "That's why I am so passionate about addressing debt issues, among other concerns, such as licensure, for students and new graduates—and I would like to see our new graduates become passionate about organized dentistry.  I want them all to have a full understanding of how much organized dentistry has to offer, and I'd like to get them to a point where they feel that membership in organized dentistry is just as necessary as having a license to practice dentistry."

Dr. Gist received his dental degree from the University of Michigan's School of Dentistry and was a captain in the U.S. Air Force before entering private dental practice.

He and his wife, Jill, reside in Grand Blanc, Michigan, and have one daughter, Holly, and two grandchildren.

Gist previously completed a four-year term on the ADA Board of Trustees representing Wisconsin and Michigan.  He has also served as a delegate and on the Reference Committee on Dental Benefits, Practice and Health as well as chair of the Diversity Committee. In addition to being past president of the Michigan Dental Association (MDA) and the Genesee District Dental Society, he also is a past president of the Mid-State Dental Study Group, of which he is a founder.  He served on the MDA Board of Trustees and as MDA secretary from 1994-1997.  He is a fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy, and enjoys memberships in the Academy of General Dentistry and the National Dental Association.  Gist is a delegate to the FDI World Dental congress and served as trustee liaison to the American Dental Political Action Committee (ADPAC) Board of Directors.

Gist's numerous awards and honors include a State of Michigan Legislative Tribute, the Michigan Dental Association Public Relations Award, and a United Negro College Fund Outstanding Participation Award.

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